The Google Android operating system captured a new record of 85 percent global market share, mainly at the expense of BlackBerry, Apple iOS and Microsoft Windows Phone, while global smartphone shipments reached 295 million units in the second quarter of 2014, according to a report from IT research firm Strategy Analytics.
While emerging markets in Asia and Africa are still growing rapidly, more mature markets like Europe and North America are approaching saturation, which led to global smartphone growth in the current quarter to its lowest level for five years.
The firm estimates the worldwide smartphone growth has halved during the past year, from 49 percent a year ago to 27 percent currently.
Strategy Analytics analyst Linda Sui told eWeek emerging markets, such as China and India, are almost dominated by handsets running the Android operating system (OS) due to cost advantage and the rising of local brands.
"In higher end segment, Apple is still the leader but volume is much lower than Android in mass market," she said. "Samsung and LG are the top two Android players in premium tier segment, but I don’t think they can challenge Apple’s position in this segment in the short term."
Apple iOS lost one point of share to Android because of its limited presence at the lower end of the smartphone market, while BlackBerry saw its global smartphone share tumble from 2 percent to 1 percent in the past year due to a weak line-up of BB10 devices.
Despite the company’s weak performance, Sui said BlackBerry shows a stabilized sign under the new CEO leadership, and BB10 devices way outsold old BB7 device, which will help it to improve average selling prices (ASPs) recover from loss.
Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform continued to struggle in the United States and China, and its global smartphone market share fell from 4 percent in Q2 2013 to just 3 percent during Q2 2014.
Although Windows Phone OS is the third largest OS at this moment, the share is far lower than Android and iOS—where Siu expects it to stay.
However, she also noted some initiatives, such as removing the license fee for Windows Phone OS and working closely with more local brands to penetrate down into lower tier segment, could inflate some growth over the next few years.
"While the company is relying more on software and services, de-stocking hardware within channels and firmer shipments of BB10 models will contribute to more-stable ASPs and help the group to meet its financial targets in the next 3 to 12 months," Sui said.
The report comes ahead of the highly anticipated launch of Apple’s latest iPhone model, expected to debut sometime in the fall. Siu says an iPhone with a bigger display—or even two models sporting different screen sizes—is much expected.
"Apple should have launched big iPhones earlier actually," Sui said. "The phablet market is growing very fast, especially in Asia, where people love big screens. The Samsung Note series make up a sizeable share in premium phablet market at this moment, but expect to lose ground to big iPhones."